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Prep volleyball: MCC, JCC accent area's confident teams

As area high school volleyball coaches contemplate what may happen in 2018, there are some who are cautious. There are others who talk confidently.

Two of the latter types hail from Murray County Central and Jackson County Central.

“I think we’re going to have another successful season this year,” said MCC head coach Kate Robinson, who led her Rebels to a 9-1 record in the Red Rock Conference in 2017. “Our front line is strong all the way through. Our front row is going to be very strong for us this year, both offensively and defensively.”

Farther away, Big South Conference power JCC is also unquestionably experienced, though not in every area.

“We’re down as far as experience in key roles, especially the setter position. Also, we lost a key middle hitter,” said coach Deidre Wierson. “We still have our dynamite outside attack with Alaina Wolff and Sadie Voss.”

Both coaches expect success. Here’s why:

Murray County Central returns experience in almost all important areas, as setter Danielle Kuball and libero Laney Brown are back to patrol the floor. Experienced outside hitters Montana Beckmann, Courtney Schmitz and Elyse Rohrer return, as does 6-4 junior right-side hitter Alyssa Groves.

Expect a lot of competition in the Red Rock Conference, though, as Hills-Beaver Creek comes back from posting a 9-1 record within the league. Southwest Christian was 8-2 while Red Rock Central and Heron Lake-Okabena were both 7-3.

At Jackson County Central, the Huskies should once again have a team capable of wearing down opponents with power at the net. The all-around athlete, Wolff, at 5-6, is described by Wierson as “short but mighty” with outstanding ball control and court sense. Voss, at 5-8, also has great command on the floor. And to think, she’s only a freshman.

Three key seniors return: 6-0 middle hitter/outside hitter Abby Buschena, 5-7 right-side hitter Kendall Kapplinger and 5-5 middle hitter/right-side hitter Hailey Handevidt.

The ability to pressure opponents is something Wierson craves.

“We definitely work on that in practice. We definitely try to work on our serving and our passing, because if you can’t do those two things, then it’s really hard to carry out the other pieces of the game,” she said.

Always a threat in the Big South Conference, Windom Area returns to the floor this fall without three-time first-team Globe All-Area hitter Porsha Porath, who finally graduated after dominating area rivals for years. Also gone is the dean of area volleyball head coaches, Ron Wendorff, who retired at the conclusion of 2017 after pushing the Eagles to a second-place finish in the Big South West Division.

The Eagles should still be dangerous, however. New head coach Crystal Fast has all-around athlete and all-conference selection Becker Hacker in camp.

Pipestone Area compiled a 19-8 record last season and returns All-Big South honorable mention MacKenzie Haroldson, a setter with intelligence and court awareness. Defensive specialists Mandi Miller, April Haupert and Mara Taubert also also back.

“Defense is going to be the best thing for us,” said head coach Jamie Juhl.

A romp around the southwest Minnesota volleyball scene wouldn’t be complete without hearing from Southwest Minnesota Christian, which returns 5-9 outside hitter Jazlynn Prins, a junior. Prins, who is also a very good digger, was second-team All-Area as a sophomore.

The Eagles should get further help from 5-11 hitter Bella Niemeyer and setter Sommer Schaap.

Coach Sy Schaap, who was herself a back row specialist at SWC during her prep days, wants to see a scrappy team today. “We’re going to have to see how this team jells in the early season, because we’re going to have a lot of the girls on the floor for the first time together,” she said.

Further south, the team to watch out for in northwest Iowa may be the Harris-Lake Park Wolves, who are coming off a 21-12 season. The Wolves finally bowed out in tournament play last season to eventual state Class 1A champion Gehlen Catholic. H-LP was ranked No. 8 in the state in a preseason poll.

A strong senior class is led by Taylor Meyer, a first-team Globe All-Area and All-Northwest District selection. All-Northwest District pick Madison Brevik is also back.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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